House debates

Wednesday, 12 February 2020


Export Control Bill 2019; Second Reading

4:19 pm

Photo of Bob KatterBob Katter (Kennedy, Katter's Australian Party) Share this | | Hansard source

In addressing the Export Control Bill 2019, the previous speaker—the member for Groom—made a very big point of saying that the government have done a lot for jobs in rural Australia and that they were needed to promote rural Australia. Well, they've been the government for 26 out of the last 31 or 32 years, and there has never been a bigger population surge away from rural Australia. I'm not proud, either, as the member for Kennedy, to be presiding over the greatest loss of population from rural Australia in the nation's history. The population is going, going, gone.

But let me come back to the basic premise of this bill. Let's get back to the free marketeers. I've said previously that it's like living in a lunatic asylum here—I hope I'm not one of the contributors! But if you continue to do what you're doing the same way that you're doing it and it's wrong then, to quote the great Wayne Bennett, that is the definition of insanity. Well, this place has launched a policy of free markets, and every speaker from the mainstream parties has got up and said, 'Isn't it wonderful?' I'll tell you how wonderful it is: you've destroyed every secondary industry in the country! You've closed down the whole motor vehicle industry. You've closed down the entire petrol industry. You've closed down almost all of the textile, footwear and clothing industry. You've closed down all of the whitegoods industry. Where the hell is the benefit? Two speakers, one from Rockhampton and one from Toowoomba, said: 'In agriculture.' And I thought I was the resident clown here! You're not trying to steal my thunder, are you? I mean—agriculture!

I'll give you the figures for agriculture because you're too dumb and lazy to find them out for yourselves. We had 172 million sheep before you free marketeers—

Photo of Llew O'BrienLlew O'Brien (Wide Bay, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Member for Kennedy, I'll just remind you to not use unparliamentary language.

Photo of Bob KatterBob Katter (Kennedy, Katter's Australian Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm sorry; it's uncharacteristic of me. I'm usually very polite, so I will take that into account. There were 172 million sheep here. There are now 66 million sheep. Geez, that was a wonderful success story—free marketing in the wool industry! There aren't any sheep left in North Queensland. Well, there are 50,000 or 60,000 when we had 20 million sheep. We had 32 million cattle when we had government-to-government agreements with Great Britain and with Japan. Shame, shock, horror—fancy restricting trade like that! All I can tell you is that we had 33 million head of cattle then. We now have 22 million head of cattle under your free markets.

If we look at the sugar industry—and this is a great success of your free markets!—there's no sugar going to the biggest market in the world, which is the EU. There's no sugar going to the second-biggest market in the world, which is the USA. The third-biggest market in the world is China. There's only $60-or-something million worth of sugar—nothing—going to China. There's nothing going to India, the fourth-biggest market in the world. The seventh-biggest market in the world, Brazil—there's no sugar going there. Where are your free markets? I'm not talking about a little, small, irrelevant industry here. As you would know, Deputy Speaker Llew O'Brien, with three exceptions out of the 30 or 40 towns and cities north of Nambour, they are all sugar towns—every single one of them. Whether it's Ingham, Tully, Ayr, Home Hill, Townsville, Cairns, Mackay, Bundaberg or Maryborough, they're all sugar cities. It is one of the big-four rural industries of Australia, and it can't get into any market on earth. So much for your free trade!

We went over and did this wonderful free trade deal with the United States. I read the newspapers, and the newspapers said that we were there to get three things: dairy access, beef access and sugar access. Well, quite frankly, I think the Americans have always been good, as far as beef goes. We really have had free access, so, basically, there was no change in beef. But for the other two—nothing at all. They were wiped like a dirty rag on the other two. They wanted phytosanitary requirements, and they've got half of the quarantine decisions. Half of the panel now is the United States. And they got what they wanted in pharmaceuticals as well. They had two objectives and the senior senator overseeing those negotiations said, 'We got a marvellous deal.' He said, 'I don't want to say that Australia came out of it bad, because they didn't really.' That's a verbatim comment from the Senate debates in the United States. So there's your sheep—they're gone. There's your cattle—a third of them are gone. Now, let's get to dairy.

Before you deregulated dairy, we had over 15,000 dairy farmers and now we have a little over 6,000 dairy farmers, and we all know that a lot of them exited in the worst way possible. I unfortunately had one of the biggest dairy areas in Australia. We had about 290 dairy farmers. They were all very big farms, milking 5,000 to 6,000 cows—that's very big. It was a very prosperous area. Last time I looked we had 49 dairy farmers. In Queensland we had over 5,000 dairy farmers and now we have 360 dairy farmers. Geez, that was a wonderful success story! The price went up for the consumers. 'Don't worry about one line with Coles; think about the 12 lines that are on the shelves everywhere in Australia.' But the price went up almost 30 per cent within two or three years straight after the federal government did the inquiry. They held it down and then, as soon as the inquiry was over, it went up.

The consumers were screwed to the tune of about 30 per cent and the farmers were screwed by 30 per cent. Let me give you the exact figures. My farmers got a letter from the dairy factory saying, 'You are now on 59½c, but on Monday you'll be on 39c, in keeping with pricing in other states and as a result of the deregulation.' So you people took one-third of the income of every dairy farmer in this country—and you people over here did as well. At least the people on this side now are asking for a minimum price scheme. The National Party and the Liberals are completely isolated. They do not have a single political party in this country on their side. They do not have a single group in Australia on their side. They come in here as the representatives of Woolworths and Coles, who are making over $1,000 million over the dead bodies, quite literally, of the dairy farmers. Everyone says that, for every dairy farmer, you've got four or five who follow on in labour—that is, they are not on the farm itself—and you've got three or four contractors. For every dairy farmer, you've got 20 or 30 people whose livelihoods depended upon that production, which is now no longer there. Nothing has replaced it. We've just got some moo cows not worth two bob walking around on what were once very productive dairy farms. Dairy farms are in high-rainfall areas and they're usually in very mountainous areas. The dairy areas in Far North Queensland are 100-inch rainfall areas and they're shaped like that. We can't do anything else with that land except dairy. Now we're just fattening cattle which are not worth two bob.

We are a net importer of fruit and vegetables. You people are all in here advocating free markets. Do you realise that no-one in this country agrees with you? If you're looking around, you're not realising that there are now six seats over here. Soon it will be 10 seats, and you won't get them back. Before I came to this place, I checked it out, and no independent or small party person had ever been re-elected—not ever. Now we almost could guarantee a re-election. We're just eating away at you. All of the western third of New South Wales is now held by our troops—the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party. Almost all of North Queensland is now held by our battalions. In central Sydney you've lost the heartland of your support. Can't you understand that the Australian people are sick and tired of you closing down industry after industry after industry and then preaching to us about the success of the free market. Where the hell is it? I represent export industries. I represent coal, copper, zinc, lead and silver. I represent the cattle industry. All of my industries are export industries. I have seen no benefit flow to us in any of these areas, and I have seen untold, unprecedented destruction.

Let me say something about the 'golden nulla nulla', as I call it. You, Deputy Speaker Llew O'Brien, would be well aware of this and I think you would sympathise with my view. If you take out the golden nulla nulla, which is a little 100-kilometre-wide strip starting at Cairns and coming down the coast to Sydney, Melbourne and around to Adelaide and a little dot around Perth, you've still got a map of Australia. Ninety three per cent of the landmass is still there. There are less than a million people living there. Guess where all the coal is? Guess where all the iron ore is? Guess where all the water is?

Do you seriously think, in a fair and rational world, that the world is going to sit aside and let us sit on this treasure trove? Read the little black book that was given to everyone in the Japanese southern army. The Europeans are sitting on a treasure trove of riches and wealth which should belong to the people of Asia. Read the document. Every single soldier in the southern army had it in his pocket, and here we are—arrogant Europeans—telling China and India that they're not allowed to have any coal because we are morally righteous, we colonials, and they are simple Asians and they don't understand the bigger picture. You'll understand real quick, because when the deputy leader of the Labor Party was stupid enough to lose the election by going on the front of The Australian newspaper saying, 'Coal is to wither away,' you kissed goodbye to the election.

Photo of Llew O'BrienLlew O'Brien (Wide Bay, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Kennedy needs to be reminded not to make comments reflecting on members in that manner.

Photo of Bob KatterBob Katter (Kennedy, Katter's Australian Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm sorry, Mr Deputy Speaker. I am terribly sorry. I reiterate: you wiped out secondary industry. The motor vehicle industry has gone; the petrol industry has gone; textiles, footwear and clothing has almost totally gone; the whitegoods industry has gone completely. But how could you export the electricity industry? (Time expired)

4:33 pm

Photo of Andrew GeeAndrew Gee (Calare, National Party, Minister for Decentralisation and Regional Education) Share this | | Hansard source

The Export Control Bill 2019 is part of the legislative package developed to consolidate and replace the existing agricultural export legislative framework. The legislative package contains the Export Control Bill 2019, the Export Control (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2019, the Export Charges (Imposition—Customs) Amendment Bill 2019, the Export Charges (Imposition—Excise) Amendment Bill 2019 and the Export Charges (Imposition—General) Amendment Bill 2019. The bill will incorporate and consolidate common principles from the existing Export Control Act 1982, export control orders and relevant parts of other acts, including the Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997.

Similar to the existing framework, the bill will give authority to the Australian government to regulate the export of agricultural goods and food from Australia. The bill will also provide for official certification to accompany goods and provide improved mechanisms to certify a broader range of agricultural commodities. The bill will provide assurances to trading partners that our exported goods meet their requirements. This streamlining and consolidation will remove duplication and inconsistency in the existing legislative framework. This will make the requirements for exporting easier to understand and also to use. The bill will enable the secretary to make and amend Export Control Rules. This allows for swifter government responses to changes in market conditions for Australian exports and facilitates the uptake of innovation within the industry into the future.

The bill and improvements to the framework were driven by those it serves, Australia's agricultural industry. The Australian government has consulted extensively and conclusively with stakeholders to develop the bill and will continue to do so. The bill provides the confidence for existing and potential exporters to pursue lucrative export opportunities, particularly for those involved with new and emerging industries. The bill provides the foundation for a strong legislative framework that supports the effective regulation of agricultural exports. This will allow for more targeted sanctions and ensure more proportionate responses to noncompliance so that Australia's trading reputation and export industries are protected.

This bill provides greater assurance about the integrity of the system and enhances Australia's capacity to gain, maintain and grow global market access for our exports into the future. Being able to access a broad range of markets creates more export opportunities and potentially higher profits for Australian farmers, producers and export businesses.

The bill will support the initiatives of the government to modernise the system's underpinning agricultural exports and will be crucial to growing the Australian agricultural industry. The bill ensures that agricultural exports are supported now and into the future, and it is important that parliament supports the industry so it can continue to thrive.

The Export Control (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2019, the consequential and transitional bill, will facilitate the smooth transition from the Export Control Act 1982, the Export Charges (Collection) Act 2015 and the Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997 to the new legislative framework. The consequential and transitional bill will do this by ensuring that arrangements to manage the export of goods are transitioned appropriately without disruption to exporters, to industry or to trade.

The Export Charges (Imposition—Customs) Amendment Bill 2019, the Export Charges (Imposition—Excise) Amendment Bill 2019 and the Export Charges (Imposition—General) Amendment Bill 2019 will make amendments to the current charging legislation to reflect the Export Control Bill 2019. These bills will allow the Commonwealth to continue to impose charges that appropriately reflect the cost of administering the export control system, both now and into the future. I commend the bills to the House.

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The original question was that this bill be read a second time. To this the honourable member for Hunter has moved an amendment that all words after 'That' be omitted with a view to substituting other words. The immediate question before the House is that the amendment moved by the member for Hunter be agreed to.